Briarwood upsets unbeaten Walker

Published 12:39 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

Briarwood's Carter Bankston knocks down a pass attempt from Walker quarterback Jackson Holladay during the Lions' 15-7 win on Oct. 2. (For the Reporter / Randy Glover)

Briarwood’s Carter Bankston knocks down a pass attempt from Walker quarterback Jackson Holladay during the Lions’ 15-7 win on Oct. 2. (For the Reporter / Randy Glover)

By CHRIS MEGGINSON / Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – Friday night was a revenge game for the Briarwood Christian Lions. After falling short, 19-18, at Walker High School last October, the Lions took a 10-0 lead and shut down the previously undefeated Vikings with three interceptions in a 15-7 win.

“We needed this team desperately, and our kids played like it,” Briarwood head coach Fred Yancey said. “The key was our kids felt like a year ago we were so close and so disappointed to lose. We felt we are better this year than a year ago, and our kids hoped we could play with them. We knew it would be terrific.”

Walker (5-1) entered the game as the front runner in Class 6A, Region 5, while Briarwood (2-4, 2-2) was looking to bounce back from a 35-0 shutout last week to Oak Mountain.

“Our kids knew if we could beat an undefeated Walker team then that would be able to set us on a course to give us a lot of hope to play great ball,” Yancey said.

Briarwood took a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Josh Brower. While the Lions were able to pickoff Walker QB Will Holladay twice in the quarter, Briarwood’s William Gray also threw an interception, picked off by Lane Davenport in the end zone.

The Lions found the end zone early in the second quarter on a 13-yard TD pass from Ashton Dominique to David Lowry in the back right corner of the end zone. Briarwood and Walker traded punts most of the second quarter with Gray averaging 39 yards per punt for the Lions. A 10-0 halftime deficit was Walker’s largest of the season.

Walker moved down field on its first possession of the second half as Holladay hit Myron Mitchell for a 37-yard gain to the Briarwood 13. The drive stalled and Christopher McKellar missed a 27-yard field goal with around eight minutes to play.

On the next possession, the Vikings executed a fake punt to gain a first down, but Briarwood picked off Holladay for the third time in the game. However, Briarwood also had another red zone miscue with a bad snap on fourth and goal at the 2.

Walker marched down field to close the third quarter with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Holladay to Isiah Cox and cut into the Lions’ lead, 10-7.

Briarwood was able to add two more points, 12-7, midway through the fourth, when Holladay was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a Lions’ sack and safety.

The Lions once again turned the ball over in the red zone, fumbling around the Walker 20, but eventually tacked on a 39-yard field goal by Brower with 2:40 to play to make it an eight-point game, 15-7.

Briarwood helped run the clock out with a big 36-yard first-down, one-handed catch by Luke Dyson from Gray. While BCS had to punt, Gray pinned the Vikings on the 1 to start their next drive. That drive stalled with 1:44 to play, giving the ball back to Briarwood near midfield. The Lions picked up a first down on a pass interference call and assumed the victory formation with 1:25 to run out the clock.

The team stats were mostly even for both teams as Briarwood had 169 yards of offense to Walker’s 168. The one exception was turnovers. Briarwood finished with four takeaways to Walker’s two.

“We won the turnover margin for the second time and got the second win. All of those clichés about turnovers being the difference is true,” Yancey said. “We weren’t able to dominate in any way, and as it turned out they couldn’t dominate us either.”

Both teams collected less than 100 rushing – Briarwood 88 and Walker 35. Holladay finished with 109 yards on 13-of-27 passing for Walker, while Gray was 6-of-10 for 68 yards passing and 32 rushing.

Briarwood is now even in Region 5 with three region games to play. The Lions will travel to Pelham on Oct. 9, followed by home region games the next two weeks against Minor and John Carroll. Walker will return home Oct. 9 to host Homewood before spending the last three weeks on the road.